How do you like your toast at breakfast? Hot, buttered “cut thick , very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in it in great golden drops, like honey from a honeycomb“, like Toad of Toad Hall, or with honey and condensed milk (but not the bread) like Winnie the Pooh? Or slathered thick with marmalade, may be?
The King in A.A. Milne’s poem, “The King’s Breakfast”, likes the first option, in fact simply must have it! In this fun and sweet children’s poem, the King makes a simple request to his Queen, who passes it on to the Dairymaid:
“Could we have some butter for
The Royal slide of bread?”
The Dairymaid says “Certainly,” and that she’ll go and tell the cow “Before she goes to bed.” So, off she goes to the Alderney to remind her not to forget, that little bit of butter for “The Royal slice of bread“. But the Alderney is sleepy, and perhaps because of it sends a message to His Majesty that
Many people nowadays
The chain of conversation proceeding in reverse, the Dairymaid exclaims “Fancy!,” heads back to the Queen, and though a little embarrassed, lets her know that Marmalade can be quite tasty, “if its very Thickly spread“. But when the Queen tells this to the poor King, he is understandably upset. He sobs that he is by no means a fussy man, but he does want a little bit of butter for his bread! And upset as he is, he gets back into bed. The Queen consoles her poor husband, “There there,” and once again goes to the Dairymaid, who in turn returns to the Alderney’s shed. This time the cow is more obliging, and says that she didn’t really mean it. And with that, she gives “milk for his porringer, And butter for his bread.”
His request fulfilled, the King is a new man, bouncing right out of bed. Sliding down the banister, he tells us once again, how no one can really call him a fussy man, but he does “like a little bit of butter to [his] bread!”
This is such a cute poem, and so much fun to read! I loved reading this as a child and still do! But fun elements apart, it does make one think of perfect breakfasts, buttered toast and hot tea or coffee, preserves–all things comfort. Breakfast is pretty much how one starts one’s day, and if that is perfect, the rest of the day will be too! Don’t you think? Winnie the Pooh, Milne’s most famous creation certainly thinks breakfast an exciting part of his day, the very first thing he thinks of:
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”
But when it comes to hot buttered toast specifically, Kenneth Grahame, I think, puts it beautifully:
“The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleeping canaries.”Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in The Willows (1908)
Have you read this poem before? How do you like it? What does your breakfast mean to you? Are you excited about it like dear old Pooh, or does it give you a few moments of peace and comfort in your otherwise busy day? Looking forward to your thoughts!
The font in the picture is a little too tiny. Find the full poem here: https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-king-s-breakfast/